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Student Health Insurance Options

As a student, obtaining the best health care coverage possible is a major priority. Without insurance, a serious injury or accident could sideline you with thousands of dollars in medical bills and potentially cause you to drop out of school. While there are many options available to you as a student, they will soon be changing, because of the Affordable Care Act. Signed into law in 2010 by President Obama and known as Obamacare, this law is designed to introduce new health insurance programs along with a health insurance exchange. Here are your current options for student health insurance as they currently stand.

Parents’ Employer-Provided Plan

According to USAToday, more than two-thirds of college students were covered under their parents’ health insurance plans in 2010. According to the latest health care revisions, students can now stay under their parent’s health insurance plans until they turn 26. The best advantage associated with this is that you can get much better coverage than you could get on your own as a student. Along with this, you will not be excluded from the plan because of a pre-existing condition.

However, if you are currently attending a school away from home, you may not be able to obtain coverage from providers on your parents’ health insurance plan. This is because the doctor or facility you may want to visit will be outside of your parents’ insurance network. In this case, you may have to pay a higher deductible.

Your College’s Health Insurance Plan

According to a 2008 report, more than half of colleges provide their own health care plans for students. This is a great option if you don’t have access to your parents’ health insurance plan, as you can obtain a low-cost source of coverage through your college. The average premium under this type of plan is around $850.

While college health insurance plans are great for covering cold and flu problems, they unfortunately aren’t always great at covering major medical issues. According to most reports, these plans will have coverage limits pertaining to certain conditions. Many plans only have a maximum of $30,000 that will cover a certain condition. Along with this, plans may also have caps on how much they will pay for certain services such as x-rays. This means that you may still be stuck with a ton of medical bills. There may be additional caps on prescription coverage. A great college health insurance plan should cover mental health and preventative care along with prescription drugs.

Individual Health Insurance Plan

As far as premiums go for young adults that are healthy, they are typically affordable for most people and are sometimes as low as $600 for an entire year. An individual plan is fantastic for low-cost short-term coverage if you are not on your parents’ plan. Some insurers may even offer plans for students who do not like their college’s health care plan.

Unfortunately for individual plans, the deductible is typically much higher than if you were on a college health insurance plan. Also, certain conditions such as asthma may bar you from obtaining an individual insurance plan at a reasonable price.

New Provisions for Students under the Affordable Care Act

While over a million students are covered under health care plans offered by their colleges, many plans are limited in their benefits and may offer varied amounts of coverage.

According to, “In February 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a proposed regulation to ensure students enrolled in these plans benefit from important consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act.”

According to HHS, a final student health coverage rule has been issued to make sure that students receive both benefits and coverage from the Affordable Care Act’s Patient’s Bill of Rights along with other protection and services. The adjustments discussed include:

Annual Limits

To make sure that students receive availability for coverage, students cannot have annual limits of less than $100,000 on benefits pertaining to policy years on or after July 1, 2012 but before September 23, 2012. Beginning on or after September 23, 2012 but before January 1, 2014, this limit is raised to $500,000.

Medical Loss Ratio (MLR)

To make sure that students receive the best value possible for their money, student health plans will be eligible for rebate requirements and reporting of the medical loss ratio rule beginning in 2013. For specific student health care plans, the HHS will apply an adjustment to how the medical loss ratio is calculated for those plans. This will help to address the premium structures and unusual expenses of student health care plans. These changes will only apply in 2013.

Notice Requirement

Under this policy, an insurer will have to disclose to the student in the policy that the issued policy doesn’t meet annual limit requirements. Students must also be told if they will be covered under their parents’ health insurance plan. These plans must be entirely transparent and students should know exactly what they are purchasing. This notice requirement will end in 2014 when limits are not allowed.

The final rule states that self-funded student health care plans can’t be included in any regulations without a law change. Along with this, student plans of non-profit religious institutions are eligible for a one-year transition from the new contraceptive coverage requirement.

The Affordable Care Act will give millions of Americans more freedom in terms of the type of health care they would like for their own needs. This final rule for students indicates that those who purchase plans through their college or university will receive benefits under the new law for consumer protections.


This article was written by Karl Stockton for the team at